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  • Jose Luis Villegas / jvillegas@sacbee.com

    Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive watches as Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson embraces NBA Commissioner David Stern between the first and second quarters on Wednesday, October 30, 2013, the NBA season opener between the Sacramento Kings and the Denver Nuggets at Sleep Train Arena.

  • José Luis Villegas / jvillegas@sacbee.com

    José Luis Villegas jvillegas@sacbee.com Principal owner Vivek Ranadive, walking outside Sleep Train Arena, wants the Kings "to be the first franchise of the 21st century."

Poll

What's the best thing about the new era for the Kings?

Leading Off: Ranadive brings vision -- and wit -- to Kings

Published: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 - 9:23 am

If greatness really does start at the top, the Kings have struck gold in Vivek Ranadive.

The team's principal owner radiates confidence. He is a visionary, a proven winner in the business world. He's also largely without ego, deflecting credit and reminding often that he surrounds himself with "much smarter people."

His charisma makes for good comedy, too.

A sampling from a news conference with Shaquille O'Neal before Wednesday's home opener at Sleep Train Arena:

• "Next time, get me a booster chair so I don't look so small next to the big guy," Ranadive said.

• Ranadive talking about his first investment with O'Neal: "Here you have a big black guy in Shaq, a skinny India guy, and we're investing in a company in Estonia. I love globalization."

Later at midcourt, as the crowd cheered, Ranadive handed NBA Commissioner David Stern a hard hat featuring a Kings logo – a reference to plans for a new arena – and told Stern, "Now that you're (retiring on Feb. 1), commissioner, you might be looking for something else to do."

But even with all the new polish at Sleep Train Arena and a fresh outlook for the Kings, the night didn't go without hiccups.

Scores of fans and journalists had difficulty connecting to the Internet to text, tweet, post on Facebook or surf the Web – a problem the Kings said Thursday had been resolved.

Said a tech staffer, hustling to help during Wednesday's game and vowing improvement, "In Vivek we trust."

What to do, watch

NBA, L.A. Clippers at Kings, Sleep Train Arena, 7 p.m., CSNCA: Will DeMarcus Cousins and company win two in a row to start the season?

Today's poll

What's the best thing about the new era for the Kings?

• The new players

• The new DeMarcus Cousins

• Shaq O'Neal's appeal

• Vivek Ranadive

Vote above, or go www.sacbee.com/sports

Wednesday poll results

Will the Kings reach the 2013-14 NBA playoffs?

• Yes: 29%

• No: 71%

Total votes: 289

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